CNN's Toobin: The Only Reason Trump Released Aid To Ukraine Is That "He Got Caught" By Whistleblower | Video | RealClearPolitics

CNN's Toobin: The Only Reason Trump Released Aid To Ukraine Is That "He Got Caught" By Whistleblower

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CNN's Jeffrey Toobin reacts to The New York Times report that says President Trump was briefed on the whistleblower complaint before releasing military aid to Ukraine.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, it had seemed obvious last week that President Trump only released the money to Ukraine after learning about the congressional investigation of the whistleblower complaint. But now we have the evidence.

Here is what "The New York Times" is reporting having spoken to people connected to it. President Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower's complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for the country in September, according to two people familiar with the matter. Lawyers from the White House Counsel's Office told Mr. Trump in late August about the complaint explaining they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to Congress, the people said.

Jeffrey.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Can I -- can I just talk about why this matters?

CAMEROTA: Yes.

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, I think people like -- view the facts as sort of a big jumble. And why this matters is that one of the president's supporters' arguments has been, there was no harm here. He gave the -- he released the aid and President Zelensky of Ukraine never opened an investigation. So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that the only reason he released the aid is he got caught in this whole scheme. He got caught doing it by the whistleblower. He knew the story was going to -- was going to blow up. So that's why he released the aid. That's why he made his very peculiar statement to Ambassador Sondland saying there was no quid pro quo.

You know, my experience with the president's language is he usually speaks English, not Latin. And he actually -- and his use of that language was to preempt the criticism he knew was coming.

BERMAN: Yes, Maggie Haberman, who's one of the writers on the story, notes, quid pro quo was not in the vernacular at all in regards to this story, at all, when the president had this conversation with Gordon Sondland. Just put up P-203 so people can see the timeline here. You can see at 9:00 a.m. on July 25th, the president had the phone call with Zelensky. It's late August when the president is briefed about the whistleblower complaint. Late August. So he knew that he got caught at that point before all these other key events happened.

What are those key events, Abby? Well, one of them is the aid being released. He knew he was caught before the aid was released. And he knew he got caught before he had that phone call with Gordon Sondland, which everyone says exonerates the president where he says, oh, no, no quid pro quo. Why is he saying it? Because the whistleblower says there was a quid pro quo.



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